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Tanya Kotnala : Artist

Posted on : 25/02/2019 03:52pm
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How did you get started? What first got you into Art? Tell us a bit about yourself.


Tanya Kotnala: My father was in the military, so we moved to places often. Back then (the early 90s) we didn’t have cell phones and landline would cost a fortune!  So we used to write letters, almost daily. My mother would write letters to my grandparents and would motivate me to draw all over the leftover space. So, I have been drawing since I was about two!


My childhood has been about studying diverse Indian art and craft cultures (thanks to all the travelling). Later, I went to study fashion design at NIFT in Meghalaya. During my four years in Northeast India, I was fortunate enough to get a number of opportunities to work with the local crafts and craftspeople across the seven sisters. After graduation, I did a number of crafts projects in Sikkim, Assam and Meghalaya, religiously maintained drawing journals about the local cultures and their traditional attire.


In late 2016, I founded Bhuli, my first ever series to be converted into products, the costume culture of India Calendar 2017. I’ve been drawing around the local arts and crafts culture ever since!



How would you best describe your style of Visual Art? Any challenges you faced as an artist?


TK: My visual arts have been strongly influenced by the diverse Indian arts and crafts culture, though I never intend to follow any particular trend, I am subconsciously influenced by the various Indian art styles that I’ve studied till date.


The biggest challenge as an artist has been defining my personal style but since I try my best to keep drawing, learning and evolving everything seems to be falling into place gracefully.



What are the tools you can’t live without? Can you please explain your work process?


I love traditional (hand-drawn) illustrations, I cannot live without my sketchbooks and inks.



Now that I have my own enterprise running, it is harder to find time to experiment with different design processes. It’s mostly about drawing organics first and then digitalising (thanks to new tools, you can straight away draw roughly on screens, it’s super efficient). Since my artworks are usually about local arts, craft, culture and creating educational as well as health-based content for the rural societies, it becomes vital to study artwork’s audience and design keeping them at the core.


So now, the design process is about studying audience first and designing around their interests while being clever enough to add personal style.



Is studying design in college worth the cost or do you recommend an alternative?


TK: Design college proved to be a stepping stone for my career. I personally think it’s a great idea to study design basics and diverse art cultures, interacting with creative individuals and seeking considerable mentoring early in one’s career. Plus going to a design college provides unlimited access to various resources like books, various software and most importantly – considerable mentoring. But it is definitely not inexpensive to go to an art school.


If you’re able to find all the above rudiments without a school, I think you should go ahead on your own.  I am certain about the fact that art can’t be just learnt but can only be understood and developed through steady hard work and inventive vision.



Who or what has been the biggest influence on your way of thinking?


TK: Like the first second of the universe came into existence through a ‘Big Bang’, for me, it’s been interviewing a National award winner, Master Artisan, ‘Mr Raheem Gutti’ of Bhairavgarh. I had the honour of meeting Gutti Sir at the age of 19 for a personal research work. His dedication towards the revival and betterment of the Batik craft of Bhairavgarh has inspired and fuelled my profession philosophy greatly!

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